Neo-Tribalism Outside the Stadium: A Fluid Community of Tailgaters

Lan Xue, Fudan University
Jie Gao, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Deborah Kerstetter, University of North Carolina at Greensboro


Tailgating is a popular activity among fans that attend college football events in the United States. As “a party in the parking lot,” tailgating involves fans getting together on game days and congregating outside their vehicles outside a football stadium to socialize with friends, families, and other fans. Using the data collected from one college in the United States, the existence of the tailgating neo-tribe was discussed based on Goulding and Shankar’s (2011) five common features. Four meanings associated with fans’ tailgating experience were discovered: “Belonging,” “Sociality,” “Nostalgia,” and “Support.” The four meanings extended literature on the features of neo-tribes by pinpointing that place attachment plays as an underlying feature of the tailgating neo-tribe.